December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours. May the peace of Christ dwell richly in your hearts.

Shriners Hospital For Children Christmas party

December 5, 2014

Work It, Baby Part II

Continuing on from my previous post, I'm becoming acclimated to doing a large portion of my work at home. In theory, this sounds super convenient and easy. In reality, it can be very frustrating. In order to write, I need complete uninterrupted time. Otherwise, the tons of puzzle pieces and statistics I'm trying to juggle around in my head get lost in one split second of, "Mommy?" or "Lisa?"

Because our computer is in our main living space, it was not providing the type of environment that I needed to focus and be efficient. We don't have space for an office in our home. We didn't know we would need one at the time that we bought it. If we knew I would be working from home, we would have definitely made an office a priority. But oh well. After thinking and talking about as many different options as we could, there seemed to be only one solution that was acceptable to all of us. We had to turn one of the closets (particularly, the guest room closet) into a workspace. I did not want to make the guest room or the play room a half-office, and there wasn't room for that anyway. BUT there was a small space in the closet that held promise. After lots of digging around, I found a desk that was the perfect fit for the closet, and with the attached hutch, it made use of as much space as possible. So we picked up the little guy (Micke from Ikea), and after I cleaned out the closet we created my workspace! I can close the doors when I'm done and you don't even know it's there. And it's at the end of the house so I can hole up for a couple of hours at a time, which is what I need most. I had to run an extension cord into the closet to create an outlet. I also had to get a laptop, something I really did not want to do. I hate laptops, but I really need one for this job. I found an HP on Craigslist and so far it seems to be working fine. Fingers crossed.

Here's my new space! I love that I can write all my stats and norm ranges on the white board, so I don't have to look them up each time.

There's my beloved DSM-V desk reference on the shelf:

December 1, 2014

Work It, Baby: Part I

I have been at my new job for three months now, and I love it. It's not a perfect job, and it has its frustrations. I don't get compensated nearly enough for the time I put in. But I truly enjoy it. It's like this part me that has been dormant for a long time is alive again. I always thought that I should be fully satisfied with only staying at home with the girls. And don't get me wrong, I love being with them and am so thankful that I've had the opportunity (and still have) to be here as much as possible. But now that I've started working again, I realize that it is important to me. To have that part of myself that can help the 'outside' work, to be able to use my skills and learn and grow and get better. I think one of the reasons that I never realized this before was because I never had a job that I truly enjoyed and was good at. So it was a relief for me to stay home and get away from things that I didn't enjoy. But I always knew that once the girls were in school, I didn't want to stay home all day. I wanted to be able to drop them off and pick them up; to be there after school and for all of the special school events. But not stay home all day. I knew that if I stopped working for too long, especially in my field, that I would have to find a different kind of job, one that wouldn't use my degree.

I love talking about my job. This might be boring to some. But most people don't know what I do, so it's fun to explain because it's something I'm passionate about. I work for a child psychologist. When parents bring their kids in, they have either been referred from a doctor, the school, or sometimes, they make the decision to bring them in themselves. Kids are brought in because it is suspected they might have Autism, because they are having trouble paying attention in school and might have ADHD, because they have extreme anxiety, or depression, or have been through a trauma. They come in because they are failing in school and seem to have problems that they shouldn't; they can't read properly. Numbers don't seem to make sense to them. The psychologist meets with the family, and gets all the pertinent information from them. Then I get a referral, and I get to evaluate, or 'test' the child. Most people think testing involves giving a child a piece of paper and having them fill it out. It's so much more than that. Giving an intelligence test, to see at what level a child is functioning, can tell you so much. And they are so hard to give. You have to do a million things at one time and it all has to be done perfectly to be valid. I get to do observations, play sessions, achievement tests (testing their listening skills, oral language skills, phonetics), and I have an intern do a school observation and their teachers give me information.

I haven't been able to come up with a term that describes exactly what I do. Some descriptions get at part of what I do, but not all: psychometrist, psychological evaluator, psychological diagnostician, to name a few.


The Stanford  Binet

I also talk to the child and get their own thoughts about what's going on. They complete tasks that reveal whether they are experiencing anxiety symptoms, and to what to degree. And so on and so forth. Then I score and interpret the results, and write a report stating what I found, and what we believe is going on with the child, which sometimes (often) includes a diagnosis, and other times doesn't. Then I give treatment recommendations and the the psychologist reviews everything and signs off. Then she presents the report and discusses everything with the family. It's technically considered the psychologist's report, because they have the license and the degree, but I don't mind. I love doing the work. When I see a child who has been struggling in school for years, and it has made them depressed and anxious, and I can help try to figure out what is causing their difficulty and communicate that to the parent, I feel like I'm helping that child get the treatment that they need so badly.

Each child is so different. There are so many pieces to the puzzle. It's challenging each and every time I work on a child's report. I learn so much. And the cool thing is, I have one of the best psychologists in the world (my sister) who is always available to advise me when I get stuck (which happens all the time).

Ok so some of these are more adult problems, but you get the idea

The great thing about my job is that I set my own hours. I put on the schedule when I'm available, and I change it as necessary. So right now, I work while the girls are at preschool, which is two mornings a week. Then I do the rest of the work at home. When the girls are off for a holiday, I don't have to work. When I have an extra Saturday and I feel like working, I can put myself on the schedule. I don't have to ask for time off or answer to anyone. It's awesome!!! And as the girls get older, if I'm able to keep the job, I can work only when they are in school, as many days as I want, so that I can still take care of all the things that are important to me about being a mom and a wife.

I realized recently that my work is included in the score of practice of professional counseling (yay!), which means that after three years, I can obtain my full licensure as a counselor. Even with working part time, and with (free!) supervision from my psychologist. Words can't express how big of a deal that is! It's so hard to get licensure, and I had given up that I would ever get it. It opens so many doors for the future.

One other really cool thing is that my psychologist specializes in trauma counseling- a specific type that is proven effective and being endorsed by the government (for people coming back from Afghanistan). I have always wanted to do this kind of therapy, and now I have someone who will teach me. I can start to do it myself whenever I'm ready and however often I want. And once I have my full license, I can bill insurance for my sessions. I know how important trauma counseling is, particularly for children, from personal experience. So even though I love the evaluating process, I'm excited about the future prospects of counseling again., in the way that I want.

I spend about 4 hours testing, and then 5-8 hours writing the report over the course of several weeks as information comes in. I do all of that at home, so technically I'm considered work-at-home.

You know how sometimes you feel like all the good things happen to someone else? Well, for the first time in a long time, I feel like something unusually good has happened to me. To ME!!!!

This was probably boring to many people; I just felt like sharing :) I'll write a Part 2, where I'll talk about the aspects of working from home that have been a challenge, and how I've been managing it and finding ways to make it work best. It's not as easy as it might sound.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!